The Necklace as a Divine Symbol and as a Sign of Dignity in the Old Norse Conception

  • Marianne Görman University of Lund
Keywords: Norse religion, Jewelry, Symbolism, Gods and goddesses, Norse, Scandinavia, Iron Age, Bronze Age, Vikings, Icelandic and Old Norse literature


Neck-rings are frequent in finds from the Early Bronze Age, ca. 1000-550 B.C. Far later necklaces are mentioned in the Old Icelandic literature. For instance, thegoddess Freyja was the owner of the Brisingamen necklace, according to Snorri Sturluson in his Edda, written in the 13' century A.D. He also tells that the god Ööinn was in possession of the ring Draupnir, from which eight new rings fell every ninth night. Thus, necklaces appear in three quite distinct eras: the Early Bronze Age, the Migration Period, and the early Middle Ages. Is this interest of our ancestors in neck-ornaments concentrated on these periods, or were they used continuously during this long space of time? What meaning did the neck-ring have for prehistoric man? The finds indicate that the ring was not only used for decoration, but served other purposes as well. It might have been used as a sign of prestige or it might have had a religious significance. A necklace and a ring are the attributes of Freyja and Minn. Is it possible to find a connection between these divine accessories and the neckornaments which appear so abundantly in the finds from earlier periods? Could such a connection contribute to the understanding of the religion of the Viking Age?   
Jan 1, 1996
How to Cite
Görman, M. (1996). The Necklace as a Divine Symbol and as a Sign of Dignity in the Old Norse Conception. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 16, 111-150.